Good news for WhatsApp users who may want to keep their chat history a bit less permanent: the company revealed a new “disappearing message feature” that will start rolling out to more than one billion iOS and Android customers worldwide starting today.
The feature allows WhatsAppers to schedule any new messages to automatically vanish after seven days in a one-on-one conversation. For group chats, the admin of that group would have power over whether or not to set certain messages to stay around forever or to be deleted after that one-week span.
“While it’s nice to hang on to the memories of friends and family, much of what we’re sending doesn’t have to be forever,” a spokesperson wrote in a corporate blog post announcing the new feature. “Our goal is to make WhatsApp conversations feel as close to in-person as possible, which means they shouldn’t have to hang around forever.”
It is worth noting here that these messages will end up deleted whether or not the person on the other end reads them, the company explained, and that includes any media — like photos and videos — sent under the same timer. WhatsApp added that messages in these chats can still be a screenshot or forwarded, which means that they could end up floating around even after the seven-day limit has passed.
A number of messaging apps are either baked in with or went on to add, similar self-destruct features. Most users have some flexibility as to how long messages should stick around — down to as little as five seconds on Signal. According to Techcrunch, Whataspp might also be playing around with a timer that could be shorter — or longer — than its current one-size-fits-all approach. A spokesperson told them that the company “will keep an eye on feedback,” and see if it needs to adjust in the future